Feeling Young Again

What the heck is up with Michael Young? He’s suddenly hitting like a… third baseman. The shortstop-turned-third baseman (Who was vehemently against the move this past off-season) has seen a huge spike in his power numbers this season for the Texas Rangers.

2008: .402 SLG | .118 ISO | 7.2% HR/Fly Ball
2009: .597 SLG | .243 ISO | 20.6% HR/Fly Ball

Those are pretty big increases in three key power indicators. Right now, Young is on pace for more than 30 home runs this year, with a career high of 24 in 2005. His slugging percentage was also a career-high that season at .513 and his isolated power rate was .183. Impressively, Young’s 2009 strikeout and walk rates are right around his career averages of 6.7 BB% and 16.1 K%. His batted-ball rates are also right in line with his career averages.

A lot has been made about improved team defense being the sole reason for the team’s success this season, but Young’s offensive output from third base is a huge improvement over last season – especially when you also include his batting average of .354. In 2008, career utility player Ramon Vazquez played 70 games at the hot corner and had the best offensive season of his career while hitting .290/.365/.430 with six homers in 347 at-bats. The Rangers also fielded a number of fill-in third basemen including Travis Metcalf, and German Duran – as well as the former third-baseman-of-the-future Hank Blalock, now the club’s full-time designated hitter.

The good news for fantasy owners is that Young’s increased power numbers appear to be for real and there is no sign that they are a fluke. As well, sandwiched in between Ian Kinsler and Josh Hamilton, Young has plenty of protection in the lineup, which will keep hurlers from pitching around him. It also gives him plenty of opportunities to both drive in runs and score runs. The 32-year-old infielder appears to be in the midst of a career year, and fantasy owners should hold tight and enjoy the ride.




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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospect analysis. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.


7 Responses to “Feeling Young Again”

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  1. Christian says:

    What do you mean, no signs of a fluke? His HR/FB is over DOUBLE is career average, and 6% higher than his career high. His ISO is 100 points above the career average… numbers that high above career averages in your 32 year old career are the definition of a fluke.

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  2. R M says:

    Yeah….not sure why you take his HR/FB as some sort of miracle…more likely than not it will come back to earth and he will be the same Michael Young he was last year.

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  3. R M says:

    His .386 BABIP has helped things just a little bit.

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  4. R M says:

    Plus, his HR/FB was up around 40% a couple weeks ago…it’s already come way down.

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  5. Ben says:

    He’s on a tear right now, but a .386 BABIP and HR/FB% twice his career average will both obviously result in inflated SLG/ISO numbers. There’s no reason he won’t regress back to normal.

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  6. Marc Hulet says:

    I don’t think the HR/FB is indicative of fluke numbers. It’s skewed no doubt… together the numbers don’t shout fluke. You’ve pulled out a couple numbers that are off but the majority of his rates are all the same and the BABIP is only .040 off… take that off his average and he’s still hitting .314, which is still .012 above his career average of .302.

    I maintain he is in the middle of a career year, and should end on a very similar note to 2005.

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  7. Damian says:

    Sure he will regress, but not to the .730 ops ways of last year with the broken fingers.

    I figure a ~.810 ops from here on out with his usual 100/90 production rates, which when combined with the great start will be a very nice year.

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